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Developing inroads for Latin American philosophers in a new and global interdisciplinary conversation

A new $1.2 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation aims to accelerate Latin American philosophical work on free will, agency, and responsibility by supporting a series of seminars and fellowships in the region.

Beginning this summer, scholars from throughout Latin America will gather in Bogotá, Colombia for the first in a trio of seminars organized by philosopher Santiago Amaya of the Universidad de los Andes (Uniandes). The seminars are the centerpiece of a project to build capacity for Latin American academics to pursue high-level work on important philosophical topics including free will and human agency. The project, co-led by Manuel Vargas of the University of California-San Diego, is being funded by the John Templeton Foundation as part of its new strategic priority to bring Latin American philosophers, theologians, and scientists into contemporary global conversations on big metaphysical topics.

Questions of the existence and nature of free will have been a perennial concern of philosophy, but in recent decades philosophers at Latin American universities have approached them primarily through the history of philosophy. The few regional philosophers who have adopted contemporary analytic methods have done so in relative isolation from one other. Meanwhile, the Anglophone philosophical world has made significant progress on the topic of free will and moral agency through interdisciplinary work,  bringing philosophical and theological scholarship into dialogue with ideas from the experimental sciences, including neuroscience and psychology. The overarching hope of the project at Uniandes is to cultivate new philosophical work on free will within Latin America while also reshaping the nature of conversation and cooperation between the Anglophone and Latin American philosophical worlds.

FREE WILL, OPEN DIALOGUE

In addition to the three annual workshops, the project will fund two residential postdoctoral fellowships at Uniandes and more than two dozen awards to assist Latin American scholars in preparing presentations for international conferences and papers for publication in English-language philosophical journals.

“This project has the potential to make a big difference in Latin American philosophy, affecting the conversation about free will and moral responsibility throughout the region and beyond,” says Alex Arnold, the Templeton Foundation’s senior program officer for philosophy and theology. “It’s an exciting opportunity for Latin American philosophers — particularly those who are just starting in their careers — to come together and learn from recognized figures in the world of analytic philosophy. It’s also an opportunity for Latin American philosophers to contribute their own particular insights on big questions about free will and human agency to the discussions happening around the world.”

STILL CURIOUS?

Explore the full project here.

Learn more about the first upcoming midyear seminar on the metaphysics of free will.